This term, I had felt like I had found my communities in Ireland. My classmates and I had become much closer, as we helped each other with group work and spent ample time together after class. My suitemates and I had begun frequently eating lunch and dinner together and sharing details about our lives. Finally, I had learned how to best experience and utilise Dublin for my own interests.
I had been commuting into Dublin city centre semi-weekly to participate in open mic nights at several comedy clubs. These clubs were hosted in or attached to pubs, so the audience was comprised of an organic mix of comedians, passers-by, regulars to the pub, and bartenders.
This was in stark contrast to my performances on campus at NUI Maynooth run by the Maynooth Comedy Society, where my jokes fell on the ears exclusively of other students. As I frequented both comedy circuits, I discovered a warm and intimate community of other comedians that would perform at the same venues regularly. This community, along with that of my classmates and suitemates, had me positioned to have an incredible spring term. However, by now we know how this story ends.
Due to the progression of the COVID pandemic in February and March, I, along with other Mitchell Scholars, made the incredibly tough decision to leave Ireland early for the year in mid-March. Everyone’s experiences with COVID are different, and I appreciate the tough familial, medical, economic, and emotional circumstances the pandemic has put everyone through. Therefore, I will not speak for anyone else’s experiences but my own, as I recount what I have been most thankful for as my swift departure from the island unfolded.
As I packed up my dorm, I received ample help from my suitemates. I asked for advice regarding check-out procedure, and they allowed me to clutter the public spaces with my many suitcases as I packed up my dorm to move out definitively. Once I was done packing, I shared goodbyes with some classmates who travelled to campus to see me off and share one final Guinness with me (this was before quarantine protocol had been discussed in Ireland). We shared our experiences with the program, had some laughs, discussed our homes (namely California, Ontario, and the Greater Dublin Area), and reflected on how we had gotten very close. I messaged comedian friends in Maynooth and Dublin updating them with my departure status. Finally, I said goodbye to my suitemate, after we discussed plans to see each other again back in the US. Though my departure was haste, it gave me the opportunity to reflect on the communities I had been privileged to become a part of. The pain involved in each goodbye occurred only because I had enjoyed great experiences here, and for that I am incredibly grateful. I will almost certainly be back. Therefore, I do not say goodbye, but see you later, Ireland.